Signs, Signs

Have you ever gone into that building where nothing is labeled? No sign tells you where the men’s or women’s room, a conference hall, or swimming pool might be? Or, perhaps, you’ve stayed in a hotel and someone at the front desk isn’t aware of the labels on guest room doors, fitness center, or conference rooms.

We who are blind or visually impaired rightly can get frustrated in either case. Sometimes, some buildings are so old they’ve never been adjusted to Astandards set in the Americans With Disabilities Act. (ADA, 1990) Sometimes, desk clerks or cleaning staff simply weren’t given the information about signs’ accessibility in their fbuildings. Either that’s because management hasn’t remember to implement such important details when orienting them to their job or they don’t know what to look for when we ask for their help.

The truth is, the ADA has set guidelines and stipulations for which kind of signs get labeled in braille, raised print letters, or in a color contrast suited for people who are visually impaired. I’ve included a very interesting presentation by ADADA Great Lakes Center about the various ways signs are or are not required to be labeled.

Check it out here

How can we help those hotel managers, desk clerks, servers at restaurants or ticket agents at a bus station become more savvy at communicating with us?

Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. If there are no labels in braille or large print in the hotel where we’ve stayed, call the manager of that franchise or a corporate contact and explain the difficulty you had in navigating the premises. Then, you proceed to explaining that you’re not just speaking for yourself but for anyone needing to navigate where they are going. Perhaps, follow up calls or emails may lead to a discussion of ADA compliance, if necessary. The good hotel manager or owner should be versed on ADA stipulations but may need prompting to connect the dots of legalese to hands-on experience.

2. If that desk clerks or server doesn’t quite understand what you mean by a braille or large print label, then describe what you’re looking for (restroom, conference room, and so forth). When you get there, check in the appropriate places, namely to the left of the door or on the door’s face if it pushes away from you. Then you can show the desk clerk or server the braille, raised print or symbolage. That way, they can be better informed for the next time they see you or another traveler who’s blind or visually impaired.

3. It’s hard, for sure, but being courteous is always a must, especially since in the given moment, you’re speaking in the stead of others like yourself.

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